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Partnership provides a quantum boost for students

January 09, 2024

The interdisciplinary group of engineers and scientists that makes up the quantum photonics, algorithms, and light-matter interactions for technology (QuALITy) cluster at the University of Victoria is looking forward to a partnership with Xanadu. The Canadian quantum computing company was founded in 2016 with a drive to build quantum computers that are useful and available to people everywhere. Their open-source software library for quantum computing and application development, PennyLane, is a pillar of academic research.

Brokered by UVic’s Research Partnership Office, the university and Xanadu recently signed a memorandum of understanding that outlines a five-year partnership, wrapping up on Dec 31, 2028. It offers students and faculty an unprecedented opportunity to run and test their codes and quantum algorithms on Xanadu’s quantum computing platform without charge.

UVic faculty already see the benefits for students and for the future of research.

“With Xanadu’s support for educational materials and collaborative research objectives,” says Thomas Baker, Canada Research Chair in Quantum Computing for Modeling of Molecules and Materials and cross appointed to the departments of Chemistry and Physics & Astronomy at UVic, “we can generate more opportunities for students in our programs. Integrating UVic’s ongoing quantum research with Xanadu’s expertise creates a means to improve British Columbia’s and Canada’s competitiveness on the international stage.

“This is great for our students,” Baker continues. “We have award-winning students who can use these educational materials for both learning and research. Partnering between UVic and Xanadu will mean that we can compete with international groups for quantum advancements.”

A team of UVic graduate students and NSERC CREATE scholars came in second by four minutes in Xanadu’s 2023 Canadian Quantum Cup; previously another team of NSERC CREATE scholars scored three first prizes in Xanadu’s QHack 2022.

QuALITy member and Computer Science professor Ulrike Stege says, “Participation in events like Xanadu’s Quantum Cup helps with building student confidence, and aligns their skill sets with the ones needed in industry. Successful participation in such events is not just great for the student portfolios but also for their resumes. Students learn how to work effectively in teams in a professional environment with professional tools.”

Baker says that he and other faculty members are likely to build courses around Xanadu’s outlines to make sure their students are optimally prepared for the quantum industry. In fact, Stege and Hausi Muller have already integrated Xanadu’s PennyLane into their course Quantum Algorithms and Software Engineering.

QuALITy is an Aspiration Research Cluster, a program established by the Vice-President Research and Innovation to support research excellence, facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and raise the external profile of the university through capacity-building resources and support. The QuALITy algorithms team that supported this MOU are Muller, Stege and Nikitas Dimopoulos from the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science and Baker, Rogerio de Sousa and Irina Paci from the Faculty of Science.

Rachel Goldsworthy